LOVE ANGLE RULED OUT
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A police investigating team digging into the June 12 murder of Cebu City businessman Richard King has scratched off “crime of passion” in the shooting death of the hotelier.
“No,” said Special Investigation Task Group King head Sr. Supt. Aaron Aquino Aquino, when asked if the King murder was a “crime of passion.”
He was interviewed by media at the sideline of the AFP-PNP Press Corps forum on Wednesday in Davao City.
But Aquino said two women have been included in the police radar for possible link to the murder.
Aquino identified them as businesswoman Helen Chua and her personal secretary Leah Caballes.
Aquino described Chua as a Davao City businesswoman and partner of King in Vital-C, a wellness and herbal company. King, who also owned the Crown Regency chain of hotels, was shot dead by a lone gunman inside his office at the Vital-C branch in Sobrecarey St. in Barrio Obrero early evening of June 12.
Aquino said Chua and King grew and went to school together in Cebu City.
He said investigators are digging deeper into the two women’s link to the murder based on mobile phone ‘conversations’ between them and Police Superintendent Leonardo Felonia, the Southern Mindanao head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU).
Felonia has been charged with the murder, together with three others – the alleged gunman Paul Labang and brothers Rommel and Ronel dela Cerna. The three have confessed participation in the killing and fingered Felonia as they one who hired them for the hit job.
Aquino however said Chua and Caballes are still considered as ‘persons of interest’ and not suspects.
We are hoping that we can establish their link to the murder, he said.
Aquino said the task force stumbled into the link between Chua, Felonia and Caballes, after Caballes turned over her cellphone to police investigators. The police Anti-Cybercrime unit ferreted out and analyzed the content of the mobile phone. Chua’s name had cropped up early on as police picked business angle as a potential motive in the killing.
Based on conversations recorded in the cellphone, it appeared there is ‘linkage’ between Helen Chua and Caballes, and Felonia, Aquino said.
Aquino said he could not as yet provide details about the contents but Chua, Caballes and Felonia were involved in the ‘conversation.’
In due time. we will provide the details about what they were talking about, he said.
He said the task force is still to get hold of the mobile phone of Chua, who is said to be presently confined in a Manila hospital.